This past week, Melissa and I had a fantastic reminder about the importance of taking a moment to step back from a frustration and trying to understand why your significant other is doing the things they are doing. We're not very good at this and often times can find ourselves in this unsympathetic cycle of frustration.
For the majority of the week, things had been a little tense in our house. Melissa had been frustrated with me as she felt like I had been distant and hadn't given her much quality time. And even when I had, she felt like I was giving her my emotional left overs. At the same time, I had been frustrated at Melissa because I felt like she has been pretty short when I get home from work and a little overly controlling about taking care of our little dude or cleaning up the house.
As we tried to talk through our feelings a couple of times, we didn't get very far. Each time we would simply point to one another's issues as the cause of the tension:
M: If I felt like you wanted to be with me when you got home, I wouldn't be so short.
J: If you more pleasant to be around, I'd be giving you more quality time.
M: Well, if you...
You get the point. Round and round we would go. I bet you and your significant other have never dealt with anything like this, huh?
Completely disconnected from trying to solve the tension, on Thursday I offered to take our little dude to my office with me and give Melissa a day off. On top of our marriage tension, the week had been a little stressful as our little guy has been having a slight stomach issue and the result of that had been multiple visits to the doctors, some messier diapers and a slightly more fussy baby. Melissa deserved a day to get some writing and freelance work done, as well as to just have a little time for herself.
At the end of the day, it was pretty funny what ended up happening.
Somewhere around 4:00pm, I remember saying to one of my co-workers, "Wow, I am just completely beat." She affirmed how I felt and told me that I looked pretty beat as well. I was a little surprised about how much working and watching our little dude at the same time had taken out of me...and he was a beyond perfect baby all day long. By the time I got in my car an hour later I was grumpy and just exhausted.
When I got home, Melissa barely said two words to me upon coming in the door but instead went straight for our little dude. She pulled him out of his car seat, started smiling at him and talking to him about his day. I could tell she was in a good mood and had gotten a lot done throughout the day.
I however was immediately jealous of the baby.
"What the heck? No hello to me? No, 'how was your day honey?'" I then nitpicked at something and then walked away. As I left, Melissa called after me, asking me what my problem was and then went in the opposite direction to take the little guy upstairs to change him and give him a bottle.
After our little guy ate, we went for a walk and started our "fix the tension" conversation for the third time that week. Except this time it was completely different. We had realized that by switching shoes for the day, our frustrations with one another had completely switched. I was now frustrated by the lack of attention Melissa was giving to me and she had been hurt because of how short I had been. We both were then able to take a huge step back and really understand where each other had been coming from all week. Since then (so far), we have been able to operate in more grace and understanding with one another.
More often than not, if you have a semi-healthy relationship, your significant others actions are not a means of trying to make you angry or hurt you on purpose. Instead, there are usually external factors playing into things. It's so important when we find ourselves facing some tension to take a step back from whatever the issue is and try to see things from the other person's perspective. If we can learn how to do this more and more, we will get to the root of the actual issues at hand more quickly. Which will mean less overall tension to deal with to begin with.
What issues are you facing in your relationship right now?
Why do you think your significant other is acting the way they are?
What could be going on from their perspective that could be playing into the issue at hand?